So much has happened since the last time I posted, that you might not be able to keep up with it- but that's okay, I'm not sure I can either! :-)
I have continued to have more and more inspirational experiences utilizing the principles of applied behavior analysis in my work with wonderful children who are affected by autism and related developmental disabilities, and every day I love my job and my career more than the day before. How many people are lucky enough to feel that way? I think I'm definitely in the minority there! My kiddos are making amazing progress every day, and I am blessed to be a part of it. Sometimes, a kid will move forward by leaps and bounds, and then regress a bit. However, I am trying to keep the big picture in mind and not be discouraged when a kid starts to struggle or show some behavioral regression. I am putting one foot in front of the other and continuing to analyze all the changes in the environment, and see how the environment could be changed to help set the learner up for success. I had the pleasure of attending a fantastic conference, BABAT: The Berkshires Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, last week, which was a highlight of the fall so far for me. I enjoyed traveling to and from, and attending the conference, with my friend and colleague Giorgia, who has been a great collaborator both in my graduate studies at Simmons College (http://aba-simmonscollege.com/index.html) and in my work at RCS: Realizing Children's Strengths (http://www.progressforallchildren.com). She did an awesome job presenting her poster, and we both enjoyed learning from ongoing research presented by a number of professionals and graduate students in Behavior Analysis. Amherst was GORGEOUS with the classic New England fall foliage and the rural scenery, as well as the college campuses all around the Amherst area. I have started volunteering at Greyhound Friends, Inc. (http://greyhound.org/), a non-profit organization that rescues and helps find great homes for Greyhounds who are retired from racing, as well as for other Greyhounds/Greyhound mixes and related dogs that need families and forever homes. I am IN LOVE WITH all the doggies, and can't wait for the day when I am home enough to have my own Greyhound! I have been having a blast reading and researching as much as I can about these wonderful animals. At some point I would love to train Greyhounds as therapy dogs and bring them to schools, hospitals, etc. to bring joy to children and others who may not be able to have their own dogs or spend time with dogs on a regular basis otherwise. I am getting very close to the end of my master's degree, which is hard to believe! Time really does fly when you're having fun! If I am admitted into the PhD program in Behavior Analysis at Simmons, I will receive my master's degree in December (!!!), and if not, I will receive my master's degree in the spring (still coming up fast). I just had my PhD interview and am waiting to hear the results- should find out within 2 weeks, the longest 2 weeks of my life probably, but not too long I guess. I am so passionate about pursuing further research and education in the field of Behavior Analysis that it is very difficult to consider the possibility of not being admitted to the program. I want to pursue this degree and immerse myself in this intensive program so badly, and now it is out of my hands and beyond my control. I will continue working full-time at RCS, which I adore, whether or not I start the PhD program, since it is designed for full-time practicing Behavior Analysts (just like the master's program I am now finishing at Simmons is). However, my long-term goal is to teach Behavior Analysis at a university, while continuing to work at RCS, and I know how important it is for professors to have rigorous doctoral training. It seems like the next few weeks are a wait period, during which I am anxiously anticipating several decisions that other people need to make for me. First, the PhD admissions decision from Simmons; second, the decision of whether or not my research poster will be accepted for the ABAI-Denver conference by the Association for Behavior Analysis International; and third, the results from the BCABA (Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst) exam that I recently completed. It's hard having so many unknowns! I trust, though, that everything will work out for the best; see Romans 8:28! In the mean time, I am keeping super-busy with graduate school homework, supervising a home-based case, and trying to have some semblance of a social life. Tonight, I am going to out to dinner and then to the Boston Symphony Orchestra concert with my cousin Andy and one of his friends to hear Pinchas Zukerman- I am psyched! One other neat experience that I had recently was representing my undergraduate alma mater, Lawrence University (http://www.lawrence.edu), at the Newton North High School College Fair. It was SO much fun talking to high school students and their parents, as well as the high school guidance counselors, about LU and all the incredible experiences I had there. I hope many of them will attend LU! Time to get ready for the concert and mail the admissions/college fair materials back LU, then maybe make some more data sheets for my kiddos. Let me know your thoughts- I welcome everyone's input!